Brenda Pino has over 45 years of banking experience. As Vice President of Physical Channels for the BMO Financial Group, Brenda’s responsibilities include assuring optimal customer and employee experiences when utilizing any of the Bank’s Physical Channels, which includes a network of over 4,000 ATMs in North America. Brenda is the co-chair of the BMO Without Barriers disability ERG.
Tekki Lomnicki is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Tellin’ Tales Theatre, dedicated to shattering the barriers between the disabled and non-disabled worlds through personal story. Tekki performs her critically acclaimed solo work for schools, conferences and theater audiences, and works as a Marketing Copywriter for True Value Hardware.
Courtney Sass is a Student Aide at the British International School of Chicago and the creator of the Museum Accessibility Toolkit, a website that features basic and inexpensive accommodations cultural institutions can provide for people with disabilities. Courtney earned a M.A. in Museum and Exhibition Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a B.A. in Art History from Loyola University Chicago.
Andrew Webb is a former Equal Justice Works ADA 25 Fellow, sponsored by McDermott Will and Emery. Since concluding his fellowship, Andrew has continued as a Staff Attorney at Equip For Equality, where he focuses primarily on providing education and representation to improve access to health care and related services for Illinois residents with disabilities. Andrew earned a J.D. from The University of Chicago and a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University.
Will Sitter currently works for Talent Hitch as a Senior Market Analyst. He started that job in July and help companies find key people for their open positions. He also helps the company new clients to grow the buisness.
Joyce Otuwa is a Staff Attorney at Equip for Equality, investigating, negotiating, and litigating social security and discrimination cases on behalf of clients. Joyce believes in public service, mentorship, and the deconstruction of exclusive ideology through education, activism, and legal advocacy. Joyce earned a J.D. and B.A. from the University of Illinois.
Christina McGleam serves as the Assistant to the Commissioner at the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. Christina’s responsibilities include the daily operations of the Commissioner’s Office and representing MOPD on two transit committees. Christina has a B.A. from John Carroll University and a Masters in Human Resource Management from Roosevelt University.
Evelyn Keolian is a Children’s Librarian in the Chicago Public Library (CPL) system. Evelyn also serves as the founder and chair of the Diversability Advocacy Committee at CPL. Evelyn is an adjunct instructor in American Sign Language at Oakton Community College. Evelyn received a M.L.I.S. from the University of North Texas/California State University, Northridge in 2012.
Emily Harris is Principal of Harris Strategies, LLC, helping non-profit organizations, philanthropy, public agencies and business move their ideas to action. Previously, she was the founding Executive Director of ADA 25 Advancing Leadership and a Senior Director at the Chicago Community Trust, working on equity and inclusion initiatives. As Executive Director of ADA 25 Chicago, she engaged more than 200 program partners in advancing disability inclusion. As Vice President of Metropolis Strategies, she led programs focused on regional economic growth, open space conservation, early childhood education, and served as Executive Director of the Burnham Plan Centennial. She earned a B.A. from Oberlin College and an M.A. from the University of Chicago. She serves on the Forest Preserves of Cook County Conservation and Policy Council, the Leadership Greater Chicago Fellows Association Board and the CMAP Economic Development Committee.
Zully JF Alvarado is an educator, trainer, public speaker, entrepreneur and international leader and advocate on the rights of children, women, and persons with disabilities. Zully currently lives in Gary, Indiana and raises awareness on the importance of accessibility in infrastructure, transportation and outdoor recreation. Zully earned an M.Ed. from the Erikson Institute.
Maureen Reagan, an architect, and Founder of MRA Architects, Ltd. was the President of her firm for 25 years. Prior to establishing MRA, she practiced architecture at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and Loebl Schlossman & Hackl. Recently, she transitioned from MRA to pursue other avenues, including continuation of universal design and accessibility consulting. Maureen graduated from University of Illinois at Chicago with an M.Arch. in Architecture and Purdue University with a B.S. with Distinction in Environmental Design, and studied archiecture at L’Ecole d’architecture, Universite de Paris III, Versailles, France.
As Director of the Division of Rehabilitation Services, Rahnee Patrick directs Illinois’ state agency to assist Illinoisans with disabilities to reach personal goals of employment and education. Rahnee conceived the ADAPT Youth Summit, and was the recipient of the 2008 Paul Hearne Award of the American Association of People with Disabilities. Rahnee graduated from Indiana University and co-founded Students Together Able and Respected, comprised of disabled students.
As a Senior Accessibility Specialist, Benro Ogunyipe directs and administers the bureau’s program and training activities to ensure department compliance with Titles I & II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the department’s legal obligations under the Illinois Human Rights Act. Benro has 15 plus years of professional experience in public service administration, non-profit leadership management and multiple advocacy and policy board positions driven to promote full inclusion and accessibility for people with disabilities as well as personal and professional advocacy for Deaf and hard of hearing people in all settings of the society. In 2014 and again in 2016, U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Benro to the National Council on Disability. Benro was also appointed by three different Illinois Governors to public bodies including twice as a Commissioner of the Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission. He served as President and Board Chairman of the National Black Deaf Advocates, Inc. Benro received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Gallaudet University and a Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) from the School of Public Service at DePaul University.
Andrés Gallegos is a shareholder with the law firm of Robbins, Salomon & Patt, Ltd. and is the founder and director of its national disability rights practice. Andrés is a frequent speaker and has authored numerous articles on matters relating to the application of disability-related laws to healthcare providers and the disability rights movement. Andrés is a member of the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency that provides advice to the President, Congress, and federal agencies on matters affecting persons with disabilities nationwide. He serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of Access Living and was a two-time governor appointee to the Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois. Andrés earned a B.S. from the University of Southern Mississippi and a J.D. from the St. Louis University School of Law.
For the past thirty years, Jack Catlin has been involved in creating environments for all people including people with disabilities. Currently, Jack is one of two technical trainers for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST Program. Jack co-chaired the committee that developed Chicago’s first comprehensive accessibility code as part of the revisions to the Chicago Building Code. In 1994, Jack was appointed to the U.S. Access Board by President Clinton. He served on the Executive Committee of the Chicago Community Trust, Co-Chairs it’s Disabilities Fund Advisory Board, and is a current board member of the Metropolitan Planning Council. Jack graduated from the University of Illinois School of Architecture.
Horacio Esparza is the Executive Director of Progress Center for Independent Living, an Independent Living Center serving suburban Cook County. Horacio is also the host of a radio show called Vida Independiente. Horacio is a member of Not Dead Yet and the Illinois Statewide Hispanic Council. Horacio served on the ADA 25 Chicago steering committee. Horacio earned a B.A. from University of Wisconsin Whitewater and a degree in philosophy from Autonomous University of Guadalajara in Jalisco, Mexico.
Gary Arnold is the Program Director for Progress Center for Independent Living. Previously, Gary worked as the Public Affairs Manager for Access Living. Gary is the co-chair of the Board of Directors for Crossroads Fund. He is the immediate past president of Little People of America, and has served on the Board of Directors for Public Narrative (previously known as the Community Media Workshop). Gary is a 2013 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow. Gary earned a B.A. from Beloit College and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2018.
Rachel Arfa is a staff attorney at Equip for Equality and represents clients with disabilities in employment discrimination and civil rights violations. She also manages the PABSS program and the Illinois ADA Project. Rachel currently serves on the Cook County Anti-Harassment Task Force and the City of Chicago Accessible Airport Advisory Committee. In the past, Rachel has served on the Board of Directors for the New Leaders Council, Illinois Telecommunications Access Corporation, and the Midwest Center on Law and the Deaf, and the Metra ADA Advisory Committee. Rachel is a founding Steering Committee member of the Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium Steering Committee and serves on the Board of Directors for 3Arts, which supports artists of color, women artists and artists with disabilities. Rachel is a 2016 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan (B.A. in American Culture) and the University of Wisconsin School of Law (Juris Doctorate).
As Deputy Commissioner, Joe Albritton oversees Employment Services, Training Services, and Deaf and Hard of Hearing Programs. Joe is a member of the Mayoral Task Force on Employment and Economic Opportunities for People with Disabilities, and the Financial Advisory Council for the Empowerment of People with Disabilities. Prior to MOPD, Joe served as a Therapeutic Recreation Instructor for the Chicago Park District and a Job Developer at the Chicago Lighthouse. Joe is a graduate of Florida State University.
Commissioner Karen Tamley leads numerous disability policy and accessibility compliance initiatives in transportation, city infrastructure, emergency preparedness, housing, education, and technology. Karen serves as the City’s representative regarding disability related policy on Board and committees, including the Pace Board of Directors. In 2015, President Obama appointed Karen to the United States Access Board. Additionally, Karen serves on the Board of Director’s for the Kohl Children’s Museum and Meals on Wheels Chicago Executive Committee. Karen was Co-Chair ADA 25 Advancing Leadership Steering Committee. Karen is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and a Leaderhsip Greater Chicago Fellow (1999).
Pat Maher is a disability expert and consultant, serving on many boards and committees including the United Airlines Accessible Travel Advisory Board, and United Spinal Association Board of Directors, serving as the interim chair. Pat has served on the City of Chicago Mayoral Task Force on Disability and Employment. Pat has authored articles on disability and employment and co-founded the Information Technology Knowledge and Abilities Network. Pat received a B.A. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Since 1999, Daisy Feidt has led Access Living through multiple strategic planning efforts and has managed both development and program operations activities. Daisy serves as Vice President of Board of Directors for the Business and Professional People for the Public Interest. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living. Daisy is Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow (2007) and holds a B.A. in Psychology from Lawrence University.
In addition to heading Access Living, one of the nation’s leading disability rights organizations and center for independent living serving Chicago, Bristo served as the Presidentially-appointed chairperson of the National Council on Disability from 1994-2002. As the former president of the National Council on Independent Living, she worked with the broader civil rights community on the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. She is the most recent emeritus President of the United States International Council on Disabilities, a member of Human Rights Watch Disability Advisory Committee, and the co-chair for the ADA 25 Chicago Steering Committee.
Bristo received the Distinguished Service Award of the President of the United States for her role in the creation and passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). She was named a Henry B. Betts Laureate for significantly improving the quality of life for people with disabilities, and earned the 1993 United Way of Chicago Executive of the Year Award. She was also was named by Crain’s Chicago Business as one of Chicago’s 100 Most Influential Women, the Chicago Sun-Times list of 100 Most Powerful Women, and named 2007 Chicagoan of the Year, by Chicago Magazine and has received numerous other awards and honors.
Bristo is a Trustee of Rush University, a Board member of Forefront, a Life Member of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, a member of The Chicago Network, a Leadership Greater Chicago Alumni, and was appointed as a co-chair of Governor-elect Pritzker’s Transition Committee on Human Rights. She earned a B.A. from Beloit College and a B.S. in Nursing from Rush University.
Amber Smock oversees policy, community organizing, leadership development, and issue education as the Director of Advocacy at Access Living. Amber is a Commissioner of the Cook County Commission on Human Rights, as well as a member of the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services Medicaid Advisory Committee. She served on transition subcommittees for both Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot. She is the facilitator of the federal-state working group Disability Power for Community Integration. Amber is a member of ADA 25 Advancing Leadership and Leadership Greater Chicago (class of 2014), and a recipient of several local and national awards for her disability advocacy.
Kevin Irvine works at Rush University Medical Center as its Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant, Individuals with Disabilities, and is Co-Chair of the Rush ADA Task Force. Since 2012, Kevin has served on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Transit Authority. Kevin is also a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow (2006) and a graduate of Purchase College, State University of New York.
As an instructor and doctoral candidate in Disability Studies at University of Illinois at Chicago, Norma Jane Mejias’s work explores experiences of young women with disabilities in support groups. Janie has been involved in disability rights advocacy and many groups at Access Living. Janie is also passionate about volunteering for Canine Companions for Independence with service dog Haven. Janie earned a B.A. from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian College and a M.S. from University of Illinois at Chicago.
Mark Williams develops and manages foundation and government grants at United Way of Metro Chicago. Mark has served the nonprofit and disability communities for many years and was a member of both the Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois and the Illinois ADA Project Steering Committee. Mark earned his B.A. in American Studies from Lake Forest College and M.S. in Human Services Administration from Spertus College. He currently serves on the Boards of Directors at Blind Service Association, and Mental Health Association of Greater Chicago.
Brian Heyburn is a Ph.D. candidate in Disability Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, having first received an M.S. in Disability and Human Development. At UIC, Brian serves as a Graduate Assistant at the Disability Cultural Center assisting with the development disability culture events across campus. Brian earned a B.A. in Religion from Centre College.
Michele Lee is a diversity leader at Aon and founder of the Empowering Abilities Employee Resource Group. Michele is passionate about disability employment, universal access, and accessible transportation. Michele represents Aon on the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab’s Business Advisory Board. Michele earned a B.A. from the University of Arizona.
Kevin D’Ambosio is a motivational speaker, actor, teacher, and writer. Kevin is one of The Moth’s StorySLAM winners and has performed on many stages including The Ragdale Foundation and in Lyric Opera’s Chicago Voices Project. Kevin created a theatre games program for adults with developmental disabilities at Piven Theatre and a Storytelling Lab at Cook County Jail for medium and maximum male detainees. As a motivational speaker, he speaks with middle and high school groups. In Spring 2019, he will appear in Interrobang Theatre’s production, Utility. Kevin graduated Cum Laude and earned a BA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
At Discover, Chaitanya Manchanda is the founder and co-chair of the Discover’s employer resource group, “Accentuating Discover Abilities.” Chaitanya is actively involved in spreading awareness, advocating for disability rights and representing the Deaf/Hard Of Hearing (HOH) Community. Chaitanya was an Executive Committee Member of the Hearing Loss Association of America in Chicago Lincoln Park for two years. Chaitanya earned a B.S. from the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada.
Bridget Hayman specializes in digital, media, and content marketing with 19 years of experience activating cross-channel communication strategies in healthcare, finance, and the nonprofit sector. Before joining Access Living, Bridget was the director of digital content marketing at Easterseals’ national headquarters and served as the associate director of public relations and social media at Valence Health. Prior to that, she built and executed social media strategies from the ground up for both the American Dental Association and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. She began her professional career at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
Bridget is a 2018 University of Chicago Civic Leadership Academy Fellow, a 2017 ADA 25 Advancing Leadership Fellow, and a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. She holds a master’s degree in visual culture from Lancaster University, England, and a triple bachelor’s in English, journalism, and public relations from the University of Northern Colorado.
Risa Jaz Rifkind oversees Advancing Leadership’s Civic Connections Project by engaging with Members and partners to identify opportunities for Members to lead with power and influence. She leads Advancing Leadership’s external and internal marketing, communications, and outreach. Previously, Risa was Program Manager at the Chicago Community Trust and managed disability inclusion initiatives including the Disabilities Fund and ADA 25 Advancing Leadership. Risa is passionate about the arts and serves as the Co-Chair of the Steering Committee for the Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium as well as on its Board of Directors as Treasurer. Risa also serves on the Accessible Airports Advisory Committee for the City of Chicago and the Access Advisory Committee for the Chicago History Museum. Risa received a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University.
As Deputy Commissioner of Compliance, Joe Russo is responsible for reviewing compliance with applicable accessibility codes during the building permit process. Previously, Joe held positions with Illinois Attorney General and the US Department of Justice. Joe serves on the Board of Directors of Openlands and the Center for Disability and Elder Law. Joe earned a B.A. from Georgetown University and a J.D. from New York University School of Law. Joe is a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow (2007).
Mary Rosenberg is a Staff Attorney for the Civil Rights Team at Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago. As a Staff Attorney, Mary represents people with disabilities in fair housing cases, conducts education and outreach about disability rights laws, and is involved in public policy advocacy. Mary received a M.S.T. from Pace University and a J.D. from The John Marshall Law School.
Randall Owen’s work focuses on disability policy, human rights of people with disabilities, and policy reforms. Randall is a member of the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities and a Governing Counselor/Executive Board member on the Disability Section of the American Public Health Association. Randall is a Fellow of the American Congress on Rehabilitation Medicine. Randall earned a B.A. from Hope College, and an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Kevin Knabe has served on the Executive Advisory Board for NARDA PWI and was twice selected for a US delegation in China, South Korea, and Russia as part of the Citizen Ambassador Program. Kevin serves on the Chicago Hearing Society’s Board of Advisors and is a Mentor Deaf Tech at Harper College. Kevin is a graduate of Marquette University.
Kaney O’Neill is a Navy veteran and founder of O’Neill Contractors. In 2015, Kaney was the recipient of the National Veteran-Owned Business Association Woman Vetrepreneur of the Year Award and the Annual Woman Veteran of the Year Award from the Women’s Business Development Center in 2014. Kaney serves on the Board of Directors for the Federation of Women Contractors and the National Board of Directors of Bunker Labs. Kaney received a B.S.Ed. and a M.A. from Northwestern University.
Professor, author, and legal consultant, Kathleen Dillon Narko is a prominent member of the Chicago Bar Association, currently serving on the Editorial Board of the CBA Record. Kathleen is a past member of the CBA Board of Managers and a current member of the Membership Committee. Kathleen serves on the Board of Advisors of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago as a member of the Legal Advisory Committee. Additionally, Kathleen is a member of the Leadership Council of the National Immigrant Justice Center. Kathleen received a J.D. from Cornell Law School and a B.A. from Yale University.
Bill Bogdan is responsible for the coordination, development, and implementation of programs and services for persons with disabilities for the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office. In 2010, Bill was appointed by the Governor of Illinois to Chair the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities. In addition, Bill serves on the Illinois Elevator Safety Advisory Board, the Illinois State Library Talking Books and Braille Service Advisory Council, the Board of Directors for the Spinal Cord Injury Association of Illinois and the Diveheart Foundation. Bill graduated with honors from DePaul University, and is active in many sport and recreational programs offered through Adaptive Adventures and the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Adaptive Sports & Fitness Program.
Stephanie Anderson brings commitment and drive to ensure that all Vaughn High School students have opportunities to engage within the community. Prior roles include Diverse Learner Supporter at Chicago Public Schools and an Intervention Specialist/School Psychologist for Northern Suburban Special Education District. Stephanie founded Friends of Vaughan. Stephanie earned a B.A. from Western Michigan University and an M.A. from Concordia University.